1. I do not have a background in architecture. Can I still apply to the MArch program?
Yes, definitely. The three-year, professional Master of Architecture (MArch) at UIC is open to students from any academic background. To qualify for the program, applicants need a bachelor's degree in any field (completed or in progress) and three pre-requisite courses: one in Calculus and two in Art History or Architecture History. It is in a student's best interest to proceed directly to the MArch if he or she already holds a bachelor's degree in any field since the MArch is a professional degree that fulfills the education requirements for the architectural licensing process. Four-year undergraduate degrees are considered pre-professional. Further information about professional architecture programs can be found at www.naab.org.
In some cases, promising applicants who have no background in architecture or the arts may be admitted to the program with the recommendation to complete our YArch summer program before beginning their graduate coursework.
2. What classes can fulfill pre-requisite requirements for the MArch program if I don't have a bachelor's degree in architecture?
The calculus pre-requisite course should be offered within an institution's math department and should not be a remedial or specialized course. For instance, something like Calculus I is usually more appropriate than Business Calculus. Advanced Placement credit for Calculus will be accepted when granted by an undergraduate institution.
The art history or architecture history course pre-requisites may vary. The two courses combined should cover a visual history from ancient or Renaissance periods up through the present. The second course should emphasize (or at least fully cover) modern and contemporary art and architecture.
For confirmation of whether a particular course will meet the requirements, please contact the Graduate Academic Advisor.
3. Where and when do the pre-requisites have to be completed?
Courses may be completed at any accredited institution. Unless a student has already completed equivalent college-level courses or is currently enrolled at a college or university where he or she can take them, a local community college or online coursework through an accredited institution may be good options in terms of cost and time. Courses do not need to be completed before applying to our graduate program. Applicants may be enrolled in the courses during the admission process or prior to acceptance so long as courses are completed before beginning MArch coursework.
4. I have an undergraduate major or some coursework in architecture. Can I transfer credits into the MArch program?
The MArch program does not accept transfer credits. Three-year MArch students must complete 100 credits at UIC; students with advanced standing must complete 64 credits at UIC. However, if a student has taken a particular course before (usually structures), he or she may submit a course syllabus, coursework, and transcript to the professor for waiver consideration. If the student has adequately completed the required material for the course, the professor will approve the waiver and the student will be required to take an advanced architecture elective in its place. Course waivers are not possible for studio courses and are unlikely in the case of theory and technology. Only grades of a "B" or better will be accepted for potential course waivers.
5. I already have a Bachelor's degree in architecture. Can I get advanced standing into the MArch program?
Advanced is granted to very few applicants. Those with a degree in architecture may be considered for advanced standing into the second year of the MArch if they have a background that includes a minimum of six design studios (eight preferred). Also required is upper-level coursework in theory and history equivalent to Arch 531/532, at least one year of architectural and environmental technology, and one year of structures.
Placement in the MArch program is determined on an individual basis, and an applicant's portfolio of academic work plays a very significant role. The portfolio should include creative design work from all studios and must demonstrate work that is at a level commensurate with advanced placement. Another factor in placement is how well work undertaken at previous schools provides the knowledge and experience provided in the first year of our program. Through the portfolio review, the School evaluates an applicant's aesthetic sensibility, conceptual thinking, ability to construct a visual or graphic argument, and the quality and sophistication of the work.
Advanced placement is not guaranteed; only 10 percent of applicants with a degree in architecture will be placed in the second year of the program. Students are placed where the admission committee thinks they have the greatest chance of success and hence the greatest chance for future financial support. When a student's studio count is fewer than six to eight, and/or the previous projects are not of the scale and scope that are commensurate with advanced placement, the admission committee will recommend placement into our three-year MArch program. On average, more than 60 percent of incoming three-year students have architecture backgrounds.
6. What is the class typical schedule for an MArch student?
7. When should I apply?
Students are encouraged to apply online in the fall of each year to facilitate the application and decision processes. The official deadlines are December 15 for University Fellowship consideration and January 15 for consideration for all other financial support. Note that an application must be complete with all supplementary application materials in order to be reviewed. Applications that are not complete by January 15 may still be reviewed, but will not receive a decision until later in the spring and may not be included in consideration for financial support. The final application deadline is March 15.
8. How should I send my application materials?
UIC's Office of Graduate Admissions requires online submission of most application materials including the application, application fee, letters of recommendation, statement of intent, and unofficial transcripts. These will be uploaded through the online application portal. A physical portfolio is required and must be mailed or shipped directly to the School of Architecture.
Please carefully review the complete application instructions. It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that all documents are sent and received at the correct offices in a timely manner.
Please do not send the portfolio to the UIC Office of Admissions, as this will cause a significant delay in processing and it is not guaranteed that it will be forwarded to the School, as it is assumed applicants have read and followed the instructions listed on our website.
9. Who should I ask to write my letters of recommendation?
For students from architecture backgrounds, the School asks that at least two of the three required letters be written by architecture professors. For students from non-architecture backgrounds, letters from professors who can assess academic abilities and potential for graduate school are the most useful. Letters from employers are also acceptable but not preferred. Note that letters of recommendation written by friends or family will not be accepted, regardless of their position, as they are not deemed objective.
10. How do I submit transcripts?
The UIC Office of Admissions requires applicants to submit unofficial copies of transcripts from all previous schools attended. These will typically be uploaded through the online application portal. Students who are admitted to the School will be asked to submit official transcripts from all past and/or current institutions with the dates that all degrees have been awarded. Some students may be asked to submit hard copies or official transcripts prior to being admitted. This is at the discretion of the Graduate Admissions Office. International students or those who completed previous degrees outside the United States may also be asked to submit additional records.
11. I do not have a background in architecture. Is the portfolio still required, and what do I submit?
Yes, the portfolio is a significant part of the application for all applicants, regardless of background. Applicants from non-architecture backgrounds are not required to include any architecture work. Some creative design studios or summer architecture design programs might help students develop preliminary work that is useful for inclusion in the portfolio. Note that drafting or technical projects are not as helpful. The School would rather see personal creative work such as paintings, collages, freehand drawings, sketches, photographs, sculpture, etc. Students should not try to overstate a limited architecture experience, but rather look to exhibit their creative design potential through other artistic forms.
The architecture programs at UIC focus on creative, original design and urbanism. The inclusion of your best personal artwork helps the School to evaluate your potential within the program, while technical or building work does not always provide that insight. As a designed book, the portfolio indicates an individual's aesthetic sensibility and intellectual curiosity. Both in the works themselves and in the inquiry or argument framed through their presentation, applicants should exhibit their potential to develop original design work. While not required, students who wish to further develop their creative work might look to take an art class or attend a summer architecture program or workshop, such as the YArch program or TryArch workshop at UIC.
View our Portfolio Guide for further guidance.
12. UIC is my first choice. What can I do to compile a strong application?
The School carefully reviews all of an applicant's materials to identify his or her potential contribution and fit within the program. Students from any background should carefully research the program based on the information and work presented on our website. Applicants should work to gain an in-depth understanding of how their interests and aesthetics fit the strengths and focus of the school, and then clearly articulate that fit through their application materials. There are many accredited, professional programs available and the School wants to know why the specific academic approach of UIC is the right match for an applicant's graduate study.
In addition to getting to know the School, program, faculty, and student work via the website, prospective students are also encouraged to attend events at the school such as the evening lecture series, graduate reviews, spring Portfolio Day, Year End Show events, prospective student open house in the fall, etc. It can also be useful (though not required) to plan a visit, particularly to review sample portfolios from past applicants and to get a better sense of the School's work.
Please note it is recommended that applicants consider and apply for other programs even if UIC is their first choice. Admission is competitive, and it is useful for applicants to have different programs to compare when choosing which graduate school to attend. Applying to several schools allows an applicant to pinpoint his or her potential fit within each.
13. Are there required minimum scores for the GRE?
While there are no required minimum scores for the GRE, the recommended scores are 153 on both the verbal and quantitative sections with a 4.5 in analytical writing. Scores that meet or exceed these minimum recommendations will be a positive component of the application, but lower scores will not necessarily discount admission, as the School carefully reviews all aspects of a student's application.
Please note that GRE scores remain valid for five years from the date of the test. Please allow at least two to three weeks for the scores to arrive at UIC via institutional code 1851. No department code is required.
14. Is there a minimum undergraduate GPA required for admission?
We prefer to see applicants with a minimum GPA of 3.00 on a 4.00 scale for the last 60 semester hours (or last 90 quarter hours) of undergraduate study. Students with lower GPAs will still be evaluated, but acceptance will be more difficult and greater emphasis will be given to the strength of their other application materials. Admitted students with a GPA below 3.0 will typically have one probationary semester to achieve at least a 3.00/4.00 graduate GPA and gain full standing in the program. Once enrolled in the program, all graduate students must maintain a minimum 3.00/4.00 GPA in order to remain in good academic standing.
15. What is the acceptance rate for the graduate program?
Admission to the program is competitive. Approximately 40-60 percent of applicants are admitted each year.
16. How do I know if all my application materials have been received?
After applying, students can log in and monitor the status of application materials at applygrad.uic.edu/apply/status. Questions about most application materials should be directed to the Office of Admissions. The School of Architecture will answer any questions regarding portfolios.
The applicant is responsible for the receipt of all required application materials as instructed on the website. Applicants are advised to send and upload materials well in advance of the application deadline.
17. Will my portfolio and other materials be returned?
Upon completion of the admissions process, the portfolio may be claimed in person or returned by mail if the student is denied admission. Applicants who would like their portfolios to be returned via US mail should enclose a USPS stamped, self-addressed, appropriately-sized mailing container that weighs less than 13 ounces. Do not send return envelopes from other courier services (FedEx, UPS, etc.). The School will not accept money or checks to cover postage. We cannot guarantee the return of portfolios.
Per University policy, all other application materials submitted to UIC become the property of the University. Documents will not be released to the applicant or forwarded to other institutions or agencies.
18. When will I receive an admission decision? How are decisions communicated?
Decisions are released in early February through mid-March. However, some student applications are retained for multiple reviews, in which case a decision may take longer. Acceptance notifications will be sent via email from the School. These will be followed by official acceptance from the University through the application portal and by mail. Students who are denied admission will be notified only by the Office of Graduate Admissions via the application portal. Applicants will receive an email from the Office of Admissions when their application status has been updated and can check their admission decision online.
19. What is the cost of tuition and fees?
Please see our Tuition and Fees page.
20. How can I apply for assistantships, tuition waivers, or other scholarships from the School of Architecture?
Every completed application is automatically considered for all available forms of aid from the School; no additional paperwork is necessary. Awards are merit-based and highly competitive for incoming students. A larger percentage of the school's funding supports many of its continuing students based on their academic performance and their overall contribution to the School. Approximately 10 percent of newly admitted students receive aid in the form of a tuition waiver or scholarship, etc., whereas 40-50% of our continuing students receive various waivers, scholarships, or assistantships.
There are resources at the University to help students navigate any potential opportunities related to scholarships and aid, but it is the responsibility of each student to actively explore all funding options. Prospective students are encouraged to supplement their potential graduate funding by searching for external scholarships (i.e., those beyond what the School or University offers). The Graduate College provides a good resource of funding databases to get you started.
All eligible applicants and continuing students are strongly advised to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as it becomes available (October 1). UIC's priority FAFSA deadline is December 1st for the upcoming academic year. To submit a FAFSA, visit https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa
21. What do School of Architecture alumni go on to do after graduation?
View a list of recent alumni employment and activities.
22. If I'm denied admission, can I receive specific feedback from the admissions committee to improve my application and portfolio?
In some cases, we will provide recommendations for improvement to applicants who were not admitted to our program. However, because the admission season is quite busy, we are typically unable to provide any feedback until after the April decision deadline.
23. Are your graduate programs designated as STEM programs? Are international graduates of the School of Architecture eligible for STEM OPT extension?
No, none of our graduate degree programs are designated as STEM degrees by the Department of Homeland Security. Graduates of our program may be eligible for up to 12-months of Optional Practical Training (OPT) after graduation. They are not eligible for the extended STEM OPT.
Admitted Student FAQs
1. My letter from the SoA states that I have been recommended for admission and my application is pending a final decision from the Admissions Office. What does this mean?
Applications may be reviewed by the School of Architecture, Office of Graduate Admissions, and the Graduate College. The School reviews not only applicants' academic performance but also their fit and potential within the graduate program. The School makes an initial admission recommendation. Our letter states our intention to recommend a student for admission to the program; however, only the Office of Graduate Admissions has the authority to officially admit students to the University. They ensure that the University's minimum GPA and test score requirements are met and that all documents are in order. They handle tens of thousands of graduate applicants, so the application review and official notification process take longer. Typically, applicants can expect an official admission decision in the weeks following the initial departmental letter.
It is rare for applicants to be recommended for admission by the School of Architecture but denied by the Office of Graduate Admissions.
2. How do I find out if I have been awarded any funding?
Applicants who are awarded any kind of merit-based financial support will receive an award offer from the School of Architecture. For students who submit a FAFSA, the Office of Student Financial Aid (OSFA) begins announcing aid in March. After the admission decision, the FAFSA, and any additional required documents have been processed, the OSFA will award financial aid and email students with instructions to view their Award Notification online.
3. When do I need to respond to the offer of admission?
Students must accept or decline admission offers by April 15. To accept an admission offer, students must submit an intent to enroll form and a $300 enrollment deposit. Extensions to the April 15th may be possible on a case-by-case basis but are not guaranteed. Applicants declining the offer of admission should inform the School as soon as possible so those spots can be offered to other qualified applicants.
4. I am currently an out-of-state resident. Is it possible to change my residency and be charged in-state tuition?
The University of Illinois requires that students are bona fide residents of Illinois for one calendar year prior to the term of application for resident status. Bona fide residency involves being gainfully employed, living in the state for one year, and taking other specific actions which link the student to the State of Illinois. It also requires residing in Illinois primarily for reasons that are not related to receiving an education. These actions must be completed before the beginning of the term in which residency is to be established.
The process for requesting a residency change is managed by the Office of Admissions and Records. They can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, please see http://www.uaps.uillinois.edu/students/residency/.
5. I received a tuition waiver, but it is not posted to my financial aid account yet. Is there anything else that needs to be completed?
Students should inform OSFA as soon as possible if they have been awarded any awards. The tuition waiver information is not sent to Financial Aid until after classes start. Students receiving waivers complete a form a few weeks before the start of the term, and Financial Aid will update their records once all the documentation is received, approximately 1–2 weeks after the semester begins.
6. I was placed in the three-year MArch program, but I have an undergraduate degree in architecture. Why wasn't I placed with advanced standing into the second year?
Placement in the MArch program is determined on an individual basis and is based on an applicant's undergraduate curriculum, portfolio of academic work, and overall application materials. Advanced standing is not guaranteed; only about 10 percent of applicants with a BS or BA in Architecture will be placed in the second year of the program. When a student has completed fewer than six to eight studios, and/or the previous projects are not of the scale and scope that are commensurate with advanced placement, the admission committee often recommends placement into our three-year MArch program. On average, more than 60 percent of incoming three-year MArch students have architecture backgrounds.
7. Can I waive out of a class that I already took as part of my undergraduate degree?
If a student has taken a particular course before (usually structures), he or she may submit a course syllabus, coursework, and transcript to the professor for waiver consideration. If the student has adequately completed the required material for the course, the professor will approve the waiver, and the student will be required to take an advanced architecture elective in its place. Course waivers are not possible for studio courses and are unlikely in the case of theory and technology. Only grades of a "B" or better will be accepted to waive courses.
8. Can students work while in the program?
Almost all graduate architecture students at UIC are full-time students with a rigorous courseload. The summer is an ideal time to pursue employment or internship opportunities. By focusing fully on school during the academic year, students can make the most of their time in the program, become more competitive for assistantships and scholarships, and further develop themselves as designers in order to increase their opportunities after graduation. Although some students may manage to work part-time for 10–15 hours a week while in the program, seeking outside employment during the academic year is discouraged in the first year. Beyond the first year, students will have a better sense of whether they're able to handle additional work outside of the graduate program.
9. Does the School offer internship or job placement?
The School does not have a specific job placement program, but we do offer a number of related resources. We host a Career Fair each spring for all School of Architecture students. There are typically 20 to 30 firms represented at the fair each year. Faculty members are also good resources for networking and making employment connections. Some students even work or intern directly for faculty members. Students are also required to develop an annual portfolio that documents all of their work within the program. They receive individual feedback on their portfolio from faculty members so that they can present the best possible version of their portfolio when seeking work during summer breaks or after graduation.
10. If I am admitted but cannot attend for the fall term, can I defer my admission?
The offer of admission is valid only for the fall term to which the student was originally admitted. Requests to defer to the following fall are only granted in very few instances when the circumstances warrant a deferral. If students are interested in attending in the following fall term and are not granted a deferral, they will be required to reapply for consideration; all application requirements will need to be resubmitted. If reapplying within one year, the School may still have official transcripts and test scores on file. Readmission is not guaranteed.